Class Claims Insurers Cancel Just As Hurricane Season Begins
Legal Topics | 2009/08/11 16:27
According to Courthouse News, a class action claims Texas insurance companies collect premiums for storm coverage from November through May - when there's no risk of hurricanes - then cancel policies by the thousand just before hurricane season begins. Unitrin, an insurance holding company, allegedly canceled 40 percent of one of its subsidiaries' policies before this year's hurricane season began.

Plaintiffs claim the scheme allows Unitrin and its creatures to fix prices and charge for insurance without providing it. Unitrin has been doing this since 2006, according to the complaint in Jefferson County Court.

When the 2007 hurricane season was predicted to be a big one, the defendants canceled many "hurricane" policies, the class claims. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, Unitrin and its Capitol County subsidiary collected hurricane premiums from policyholders as long as possible, then canceled more than 40 percent of residential policies before the 2009 hurricane season started, according to the complaint.

Such cancellations require the defendants to return unearned premiums, but Unitrin is ducking that by calling its cancellations "non-renewals," the class claims.


Watchdogs Sue Kellogg's Over Cereal Ads
Legal Topics | 2009/08/10 20:53
According to Courthouse News, Kellogg falsely advertises that its Frosted Mini-Wheat cereal "improved children's attentiveness by 20 percent," the National Consumers League claims in Superior Court. The nonprofit Consumers League claims Kellogg's "study" compared kids who ate its sugared cereal with children who did not eat breakfast at all - and even then, juggled the numbers.

The Consumers League claims the breakfast cereal giant's "clinical study" actually found that only one out of nine children who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats for breakfast was more attentive by 20 percent.

"In fact, kids in the clinical study who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats had an average of 10.6 percent better attentiveness three hours later than kids who had skipped breakfast," the complaint states. "Indeed, relatively few kids - only approximately one in nine -experienced 20 percent improved attentiveness in the study, and only one in seven kids who ate the cereal improved their attentiveness by 18 percent."

The National Consumers League seeks damages of $1,500 per violation of the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, plus costs.


Judge Tosses Budweiser Buyout Class Action
Legal Topics | 2009/08/07 15:51
Courthouse News reports that a federal judge dismissed an antitrust class action challenging InBev's buyout of Anheuser-Busch. The class claimed the Belgian brewer's buyout of the corporate parent of St. Louis' iconic Budweiser beer would reduce competition.

But US District Judge Jean Hamilton found no evidence that InBev was entering the US market from scratch. "Here, InBev has no existing breweries or distributorships to produce, promote and distribute its product and enter the US beer market de novo," Hamilton wrote. "InBev would have to build factories and develop a nationwide distribution system. Instead, InBev entered into a distributorship agreement for its imports, which would hinder its entry into the US market. Also, as discussed above, there is insufficient objective evidence that InBev had a subjective intent to enter the US market de novo. Accordingly, the Court finds that InBev was not an actual potential competitor in the US beer market and grants Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings."


Suspended Boston Cop Sues City
Headline Legal News | 2009/08/06 16:22
Courthouse News reports that a Boston police officer who called Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. a "banana-eating jungle monkey" in an email he sent to a Boston Globe columnist says the city and its police commissioner violated his rights by suspending him. Justin Barrett sued the city in Federal Court.

Barrett claims he was "off duty from the Boston Police Department, at a private home and using a privately owned computer" when he sent the email.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis suspended Barrett with pay and sent officers to Barrett's home to confiscate his badge and gun.

Barrett says the mayor and police commissioner caused him pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, post-traumatic stress, sleeplessness, indignities and embarrassment, degradation, injury to reputation, and restrictions on personal freedom.

He wants them enjoined from decreasing, terminating, or withholding any wages or benefits for the duration of the litigation. He also seeks attorney's fees and punitive damages.


Battle Lines Set, Senate Debates Sotomayor
Legal Topics | 2009/08/05 16:15
The Associated Press is reporting that the Senate held a history-making debate Tuesday on confirming Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice, with Republican opponents asserting she would bring bias to the bench and Democratic supporters saying she was a mainstream moderate.

There was little doubt that President Barack Obama's first high court nominee would be confirmed with bipartisan support as early as Thursday, but senators lined up to weigh in on her fitness for the bench anyway, with an eye toward the history books, the nation's burgeoning Hispanic electorate and perhaps the next Supreme Court battle.

"Judge Sotomayor's journey to this nomination is truly an American story ... (and) a reminder to all of the continuing vitality of the American dream," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee chairman. His opening remarks framed Sotomayor's confirmation as a step on the nation's still-evolving "path of inclusion."

"She's a restrained, experienced and thoughtful judge who has shown no bias in her rulings," Leahy said.

Sotomayor, 55, is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who was raised in a South Bronx housing project and educated in the Ivy League before going on to success in the legal profession and then the federal bench.


Google Rebounds In AdWords Lawsuits
Legal Topics | 2009/08/04 16:43

According to The Record, a favorable ruling for Rescuecom Corp. in April in a long-running case against Google Inc. has fueled more suits, including would-be class actions, against the search giant for selling trademarked keywords that trigger ads alongside its search results.

But in the last two weeks, two AdWords lawsuits -- from Daniel Jurinand Ascentive LLC -- have folded. It highlights the difficulties of the suits, experts say: It's a hard case to make and it's expensive to litigate against Google.

"We're starting to see some of these lawsuits crack," said Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University School of Law professor who follows the AdWords litigation closely on his Technology & Marketing blog. "My current hypothesis is that they never made sense in the first place -- the plaintiffs got all excited to go take down Google, but suing Google is a loser's bet because Google's going to fight to the death."

In these suits, advertisers accuse Google of selling trademarked keywords to anyone, including competitors. They claim that constitutes infringement because Google users could be confused by links to competitors' ads that appear alongside Google search results for the company's trademarked name.



State Police Arrest Pittsburgh Man For DWI
Legal Topics | 2009/08/03 21:49
Syracuse News reports that last month, state police pulled over a Pennsylvania man in the town of Salina after he was allegedly traveling at 97 mph in a 65 mph zone.

Christopher J. Chatham was charged with driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol content was .10 percent. The legal limit is .08.

Chatham, 29, was arraigned in the town of DeWitt and sent to the justice center jail on $1,000 bail.

Gerald B. McNamara is a recommended Pittsburgh DWI lawyer for residents in need of one. He can help you understand what a DUI defense consists of and he will also explain DUI law to you if you need it. Consult with him today.


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